Bobby Neel Adams, Carey Ascenzo, Kim Beck, Luisa Caldwell, Danielle Dimston, Karen Dolmanisth, Amy Finkbeiner, Mariam Ghani, Simone Huelser, Wade Kavanaugh & Stephen B. Nguyen, Beth Krebs, Sandra Eula Lee, Maria Levitsky, Rita MacDonald, Eliza Newman-Saul, Yuichiro Nishizawa, Ruby Palmer, Megan Piontkowski, Virginia Poundstone, Sage and Coombe Architects, Suzanne Song, Trevor Stafford, Lynn Sullivan, Dannielle Tegeder & Lili Herrera, Claire Watkins, Amy Yoes, and Heeseop Yoon.
Exhibition Dates: January 21 - March 5, 2006
Performances by Eliza Newman-Saul
January 21, 2pm
Fantasy of Description I - Discussion
February 11, 2pm
Fantasy of Description II - Discussion
March 4, 2pm
Notes from an Amateur Materialist - presentation by the artist
Smack Mellon presents Site 92, a show featuring site-specific works created by artists responding to Smack Mellon’s new home at 92 Plymouth Street.
Situated between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges on the park, Smack Mellon’s new home is an especially exciting space with tremendous architectural elements. The12,000 square foot space boasts a ceiling that soars to 35 feet. There are 25 windows on two levels, providing beautiful light and a spectacular view of Manhattan and the East River. Its history as the boiler building is evident in its main architectural feature: a giant coal trough. Columns run the length of the main gallery space, holding up a huge concrete structure that once provided steam heat for the Gair Company’s buildings in the neighborhood. This unparalleled architectural element provides plenty of interesting nooks and crannies for artists to create unique installations.
Between its operation as the boiler building and its new function as a gallery, living things and organic materials had taken over 92 Plymouth. Funghi and mineral deposits clung to the structure; pigeons nested in the coal trough. Taking into account this past, Danielle Dimston creates shelf mushrooms made out of cardboard that cling to the metal columns.Carey Ascenzo’s installation also inhabits the brick wall with tiny red hand-knotted wire balls. The small dots are found clustered in various groups around the wall like an infestation of insects or crystal formations. Beth Krebs fills the gallery with the cooing and calling of pigeons with her sound piece. A monitor perched high atop the coal trough adds a visual clue to the source of the sounds themselves. Megan Piontkowski’s green velvet parakeets that perch above the front door, were inspired by the Monk parakeets, which were originally from Argentina and now populate Brooklyn.
Blinking LEDs illuminate the sub-roof crawl space in Yuichiro Nishizawa’s installation. A telescope is used to view the remote and normally obscured area. In that darkness, a word emerges from the configuration of lights that sparkle like hidden stars. Heeseop Yoon also reveals a part of the building that is inaccessible to the public. The storage space found in the basement is re-interpreted through her large-scale tape drawing located in the back stairwell.
Virginia Poundstone uses the space atop the bathroom as a setting to continue her ongoing investigation of man versus nature. A jungle of artificial and handmade plants and vines cradle a satellite that has crash-landed and gotten tangled in the dense foliage. Inside the bathroom, apparitions of a beautiful young Christ and a deceptively sweet and handsome devil make an appearance, drawn by the hand of Amy Finkbeiner. These wall drawings, reminiscent of miraculous appearances of religious figures in lowly and incongruous settings, are recreated here based on visions had by medieval saints.
Drawing from ancient art, Lynn Sullivan uses the coal trough as a pediment to situate her frieze. Made out of paper mâche from the New York Times, the scene depicts U.S. military action in Iraq, arranged in such a way as to recall battle scenes depicted in ancient friezes.
By replicating, refashioning and reversing the coal trough as a new space within the gallery,Sage and Coombe Architects indirectly describe that artifact by what it is not: open light, translucent, accessible and temporary. Reacting to the cement trough as a heavy ominous object, Wade Kavanaugh & Stephen Nguyen create a sculptural installation made from brown kraft paper that is cut, crumpled and pressed. Replicating large wooden joists, these oversized objects appear to be broken, as if the weight of the ceiling was too much for them to bear.
Amy Yoes similarily responds to the industrial nature of the architecture through contrast. Her delicate and elaborate bright red wall drawing employs graphic and decorative motifs that recall sources such as pattern books, folk art interiors and pin-striping on big red trucks. The marginalia, such as those on illuminated manuscripts, flourishes and moves to center stage. Luisa Caldwell is also interested in the contrast of color against the grey cement. With her high hanging candy wrapper and thread sculpture cascading down from the coal trough, she awakens the viewer’s senses with her juxtaposition of color versus the absence of it and delicate celaphon wrappers versus sturdy concrete.
By mapping the underlying infrastructure of the building, Dannielle Tegeder and Lili Herrera turn part of the gallery space inside out. Using paint, tape and other medium, their installation follows and exposes these systems that are normally hidden from view.Maria Levitsky photographs and reinterprets the space with her large-scale diptychs. With these images, she also literally turns the building inside out, folding the exterior into the interior. By doing this, Levitsky abstracts our notion of the space as we know it.
Suzanne Song creates another new dimension with her large-scale mural. Using trompe l’oiel techniques, she releases a spatial illusion that not only instigates a shift in perception but also affects the viewer’s relationship to the simulated and surrounding space.
Ruby Palmer’s constructions of her “floor plans” or “dream houses” annex the front stairwell. Her fabrication of fictional places combines minimalism and surrealism as it expands the pre-existing architecture. The installation encourages associations with unfinished constructions and warped architectural structures.
Kim Beck’s cut vinyl images of foliage and weeds, creep their way up the windows, visually melding with the actual view of the greenery of the park outside. Mariam Ghanialso uses the windows and its view as a backdrop for her piece. She uses imagery taken from various countries including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Russia, Turkey and others, but always only glimpsed through the frame of a window. These images, printed onto transparencies, are woven into a curtain that is then hung in the gallery windows so that when looking out, two worlds overlap.
Trevor Stafford echoes the size and arrangement of the glass panes in the gallery windows with his grid like mirror structure. Each mirrored square in the grid is slightly pitched to provide a varied and multifaceted reflection of the outside view, which gives clues to its past: the waterfront, a ship, the cobblestone street.
Karen Dolmanisth’s installation spirals out from two metal columns to create a reverse turbulent of castaways. Found and gathered throwaways from the social world, from domestic, industrial and natural sites, spin up off the ground in her linear spiral created out of carved sapling. Suspended between two nearby columns, hundreds of needles slowly move by magnetic force created by a motorized magnet in an installation by Claire Watkins. The needles, attached to the columns with red thread, are held in a delicate state of constant tension.
Working with the geometric structure of the columns is Simone Huelser. Her abstract patterns transform the cement columns into surreal residential facades. Rita MacDonaldalso uses repetition, referencing domestic patterns and architectural decoration in her large-scale plaster wall drawing which ripples across the office wall.
Bobby Neel Adams explores the idea of a building’s past in his installation of photographs. Layers of varnish, plaster and paint cover portraits of people in the wall, leaving behind ghost-like images that represent the structure’s past lives and past uses. The layering represent the continued transformation of a space on levels not only physical but also metaphysical. Eliza Newman-Saul goes beyond the physical by inviting guests to respond to and describe the gallery space. These “performances” take place on specific Saturdays and will include discussions about the properties of the space in philosophical, psychological and poetic terms.
Sandra Eula Lee sees the site in Site 92 as having no boundaries. For her piece, visitors are invited to clip on pins not unlike ones found at larger art institutions. Each pin is a compass with which visitors can orientate themselves on-site or take it with them off-site. The pin then acts as an extension of the site by providing an informational sign that reminds the visitor of their experience at Smack Mellon and as a symbol of transience that a new home represents.